By David Colburn
Sweeping crescendos, elegant harmonic timbres, vast sonic landscapes, relentless and powerful rhythms; when one mentions “Mogwai”, many will know what to expect. They have crafted a certain style in the world of post-rock from “Young Team” onward. The music is exceptionally performed as usual, but there is an unfortunate emphasis on “as usual”. From the opening of “White Noise”, an air of familiarity overtakes the listener and brings forth reminders of the group’s late 1990s and early 2000s material.
Of course, the band cannot be completely discredited; whenever one is known for creating highly emotional music that soars beyond the headphones, it is only understandable that one would want to re-capture such a quality again and again. The music is indeed beautiful and its majesty even develops with each listen; soundscapes that are simply pleasant on the initial introduction soon become warm fixtures in the depths of the listener’s mind. Layers of instrumentation are weaved in rich production to create the simple, yet potent effect that has become almost synonymous with the post-rock genre. Simply put, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is far from a bad album.
Perhaps it is a case of common greed or an overly ambitious sense of expectation, but one may find oneself wanting more from Mogwai. There is the sense that the band has mastered its signature style and can experiment outside its realm a bit more. “Mexican Grand Prix” offers a slight deviation in its vocal-driven presentation and quickly-paced rhythm, and “Rano Pano” thrives in a rugged sonic distortion that contrasts the comparable delicacy found throughout the album, but nothing extends beyond the established comfort zone. The air of familiarity brings forth a slight predictability in each composition and exacerbates Hardcore Will Never Die…’s greatest flaw: the idea of knowing what an album will sound like before the actual listening experience.
Ultimately, the album’s quality is heavily dependent on the listener’s opinion of Mogwai. Devoted fans will likely enjoy the warm aural reminiscence and the uninitiated will find quite a bit of interest from start to finish, but it is difficult to overlook the past. Hardcore may never die, but one may wonder how long Mogwai’s take on post-rock will last without a further sense of evolution or progression.